Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa compares midfielder Stuart Dallas to Argentinian legend Javier Zanetti

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Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa says utility man Stuart Dallas is like Argentinian and Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti – who he managed at Newell’s Old Boys 30 years ago

  • Stuart Dallas has enjoyed a fantastic first season in the Premier League in Leeds
  • The midfielder recently scored a brace in the win over Manchester City
  • Manager Marcelo Bielsa has compared him to his former player Javier Zanetti

Stuart Dallas is known as the Cookstown Cafu in his native Northern Ireland, but now Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has compared the versatile midfielder to Argentinian legend Javier Zanetti.

Dallas has enjoyed an excellent first season in the Premier League, scoring both goals at Leeds in last weekend’s shocking 2-1 win over elected champions Manchester City.

The Ulsterman will celebrate his 30th birthday on Monday and is compared by Bielsa to former Inter Milan midfielder Zanetti and Julio Saldana, a member of his title-winning squad at Newell’s Old Boys 30 years ago.

Stuart Dallas has enjoyed a successful first season in the Premier League with Leeds

Bielsa has compared Dallas to Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti for its versatility

Bielsa has compared Dallas to Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti for its versatility

Bielsa, whose men host Liverpool on Elland Road Monday night, said: ‘I had a player like Dallas in Javier Zanetti before – and Julio Saldana when I got my first management experience at Newell’s Old Boys.

‘Those two players are very similar in versatility to Dallas. Dallas is a very potent, powerful player and can play with both feet.

He’s good at defending and has the ability to make runs that make him thrive in the middle. He changes rhythm and is surprised when he attacks. It’s very difficult to find all of that in just one player.

“In most of the games the team has played, he has been one of our best players.”

Dallas’s performance on the fullback and in the center of midfield has been marked by a relentless pace of work and he has scored seven Premier League goals this season. He is currently in for England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, in the advanced position previously held by Polish star Mateusz Klich.

Bielsa explained, “The place that Dallas currently occupies is the role that Klich usually has. When Dallas started playing in this position, he started showing different ways to play it.

Scoring goals was a clear expectation when he started playing in this position and as the minutes go by he knows he has a clear influence or definition in making our odds.

Bielsa coached Zanetti (photo at Inter Milan) when he was in charge of Newell's Old Boys

Bielsa coached Zanetti (photo at Inter Milan) when he was in charge of Newell’s Old Boys

“In that sense it is something new, but even though it is a novelty, it is within his capabilities as he has managed to keep it.”

Leeds have been resurrected after winning league-leader City in the Etihad – a result that hoped for a top-half finish in the Premier League for the first time in 19 seasons.

They offer to win their fourth consecutive Premier League game for the first time since 2001.

Bielsa, meanwhile, has yet to commit his future to the club after this season, but is expected to agree a new deal soon.

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